But Homosexuality is found in Nature

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Nature has an order to it.  The variations we find in our nature that conform to that order thrive, evolve, and continue on.  Variations that go against that natural order do not.  So even in nature we see a rudimentary good and a bad.  We see an ideal and we see things that contradict that ideal (due to our fallen nature). And simply because something occurs in nature, doesn’t mean it is truly ordered to our human nature (as God designed) or necessarily good.

Here’s an analogy:

Dolphins, by their very nature, belong in the ocean – their biology is made to live that way.  The fact that we sometimes “naturally” find a beached dolphin does not mean now that it is “natural” for a dolphin to be on the beach.  Being out of water goes against the very nature of what it means to be a dolphin.  And as much as the beached dolphin might like to rationalize that it is good to be on the beach, it can not make it so. And even if the beached dolphin decides to change the definition of the word “ocean” and have it include the sand as well as the water, it still can not change the reality of the natural order. All they will have done is caused the word “ocean” to lose its entire original meaning.  And the beached dolphin is absolutely no better off than before. In fact, it’s in worse shape because it’s convinced itself that it’s okay to stay on the beach.

And that’s what we’re dealing with from those who are trying to redefine marriage. They find it inconvenient (and understandably so) that marriage  is naturally ordered for the sea. And since they find this fact of life a very difficult boundary to accept, many would rather just redefine the boundaries instead.

But regardless of the nominal boundaries that any civil government wants to define, the reality of Marriage remains unchanged.

And yet, still, even though this basic reality is fully intelligible by the light of natural reason, the full beauty of the natural order can only be seen through the lens of its greater purpose.  The Theology of the Body and the Church provide this most profound insight.  And such truths, along with those of the natural order, help us to fully realize the significance of the sacrament of Marriage and how it fits into God’s love and plan for us.

For reference, here is what the Catechism says about homosexuality:

Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

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32 comments Add comment

Fred July 13, 2010 at 10:44 am

Great post Matt!!

Adam Slide July 13, 2010 at 11:45 am

Good article and great analogy. I’m glad you posted this because if I were confronted with this type of argument I don’t know if I would have a good response, but now I do! :)

Jeffrey Arrowood July 13, 2010 at 11:56 am

I actually got into this argument with another Catholic school teacher, who was arguing that homosexuality was in accord with the natural law because it is found in nature. I wrote an article on natural law that includes this story (http://www.fromtheabbey.com/shorty/natural_law/ ). Basically, I argue

1. You don’t find persistent homosexuality in nature – you only find indiscriminate sexuality.

2. “Natural Law” refers to being true to human nature, not orienting your moral compass to the “laws of the jungle.”

I love your argument here as well!

José July 13, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Great post, Matt. Just in time for us living in Argentina, where the Senate is deciding this week to legalize or not same-sex marriage. Pray for us, brothers in Christ!

Excuse me! July 13, 2010 at 1:45 pm

The example is completely preposterous! “The fact that we sometimes “naturally” find a confused or unfortunate beached whale does not mean now that it is “natural” for a whale to be on the beach. Being out of water goes against the very nature of the whale.” Strandings have been going on for thousands and thousands of years, we even see them in fossils. But it did not lead to any whales or dolphins extinction! We still do not know what causes strandings so any discussion about it is just pointless. Homosexuality IS found in nature and it DOES NOT make species disappear. Manatees for example have been around for millions of years, they are very successful evolutionary until recently humans killing them. Manatee males are as homosexual as you can get. Not all of them, but some of them. And yet some can also swing both ways. And also do not forget about dolphins! So homosexuality IS FOUND in nature, it is natural and it DOES NOT LEAD to species extinction (which by the way would be a good case for humans, since we breed like rabbits!) Just FYI I am a heterosexual female who has been observing wild homosexual animals for a good chunk of my scientific career.

Matthew Warner July 13, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Excuse me – I never claimed the odd occurrence of homosexuality has led to anything’s extinction. And I’m not following your logic or your point.

Catholic pro-lifer July 13, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Excellent post!

Mark Smith July 13, 2010 at 4:13 pm

The variations we find in our nature that conform to that order thrive, evolve, and continue on. Variations that go against that natural order do not.

Variations in evolution often start at birth: a longer beak, better camouflaged fur, etc. So then, do you believe that people are born gay?

Matthew Warner July 13, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Mark – Such variations can occur at any point (such as the analogy with the whale getting beached). The point is that there is a Natural Order. When we go against that Natural Order (whether by choice, circumstance or something totally out of our control) it is not good.

But to answer your question: I believe people may be born, in varying degrees, with a genetic disposition towards homosexuality. And I believe that their environment, events and circumstances in their lives can determine how they react and deal with that disposition.

Mark Smith July 13, 2010 at 6:55 pm

I ask because I’ve never heard “But Homosexuality is found in Nature” as an argument for gay marriage. I’ve only heard it as argument that people can be “born” or “made” gay, and that it’s not simply a choice.

Your argument makes sense to the choir, but I don’t think it’d win over anyone outside of the church.

Matthew Warner July 14, 2010 at 12:47 am

Mark – That argument is quite common as a supporting point for extending civil “marriage” rights to same-sex couples.

The point here is not at all about whether or not homosexuality is a choice or not. And it’s not at all about what other animals may exhibit homosexual behavior. The point is that just because something occurs in nature doesn’t mean it is good and ordered towards our human nature. And it’s just one of many examples that shows that there are things that occur in nature that aren’t good for us and we have to work to correct them or endure them – and NOT give in or accept them as healthy and “natural.”

Catholic pro-lifer July 15, 2010 at 1:40 pm

I’ll back up Matthew here. That point has been used against me.

enness July 12, 2011 at 9:59 am

Me too, and I finally have recognized it for the red herring that it is.

Animals have no accountability for really anything they do. Quite simply, they don’t know better (with the possible exception of some domesticated animals whom we’ve taught to expect consequences for, say, chewing up one’s favorite shoes, but I think it’s a stretch to think that understanding consequences alone constitutes understanding of right and wrong) and we do, or ought to.

Bobby Bambino July 13, 2010 at 5:07 pm

The point should also be made that because we are rational beings with intellect and a moral compass, there is no reason that we should be taking our moral ques from animals. Some animals also eat their young and practice infanticide, but it certainly does not follow that we would therefore be morally justified in eating our young or practicing infanticide. It would not matter if all (non-human) animals all over the world abundantly practiced homosexual actions- it would still be gravely immoral.

Carol July 14, 2010 at 4:01 am

Interesting perspective, Matt, but it seems a “beached whale” analogy is a bit extreme.
We’re talking about natural order being a result of pro-life intentions; pro-creative intentions and I fully agree that that is both intuitive and morally correct. However, if we’re talking about sin by degrees, isn’t it equally divergent from God’s plan for heterosexual, married couples to deliberately prevent conception? I mean, sex is just about feeling good, etc. then; yet we never hear about the evils of that. And I hate to say it, because I completely disagree, but couldn’t your argument about procreation be extended to include celibacy as being sinful? Perhaps I’m misreading your implication.
Your conclusion about “marriage” needing to maintain its integrity is true from a religious perspective, but the problem is “marriage” is an all too secular term these days. I find it both sad and hypocritical that a person is unable to visit their dying life-time partner in the hospital simply because the word “marriage” is not allowed to define what they had. Our society views marriage as little more than donning a coat: something to be changed often and without hesitation. So how is allowing committed couples to call themselves “married” undermining the fabric of society?
Homosexuality is a tiny ancillary to the truly heinous sin of contraception. If people don’t see how the two are the same sin, they need to look harder at the root. We don’t prevent couples from marrying because they have no intention of having children; yet may homosexual couples do have and raise children through AI and adoption, etc.
Yah, “beached whale” goes a bit too far. I’d say homosexuality is more like those penguins in the Galapagos: it ain’t right, and doesn’t make sense, but they’re there and who are we to tell them to go to the antarctic?

enness July 12, 2011 at 10:26 am

Carol,

I’m not one who will claim to understand a hospital that demands marriage or even blood relation for a visit, either. Outstanding restraining orders or something, that I might understand. But that is merely a case for institutional policy reform. Make that happen, and the argument that “we must have marriage to visit our dying relatives” dissolves.

Also, I have a slight predicament myself: I like the idea of married love, but am not too keen on the whole childbirth/rearing thing. The only solution I can see is to not present myself for marriage or get into any serious relationship which might logically lead to marriage until I am able to resolve this — if ever. Especially Catholic marriage, as I have yet to see a wedding mass that did not include some variation of the phrase “and agree to accept children lovingly from God.” I’m not about to start out that kind of holy undertaking by lying through my teeth at the altar. In other words, if something is not expressly prohibited it doesn’t excuse us from exercising judgment as far as whether it’s even appropriate to present ourselves for marriage, if there’s some sort of counterindication.

(And if someone happened to know that I was not being honest and could substantiate, that would probably make a good reason for him to object.)

Matthew Warner July 14, 2010 at 11:06 am

Carol – thanks for your thoughts. But I think you’re taking the analogy a bit too far. It’s not a matter of “extremeness” at all.

We can get to all kinds of conclusion if we “extend” analogies past their point of usefulness.

The point is simple: Just because something is found in Nature doesn’t mean it is Natural. And that there is an inherent good and bad in nature. Some relationships and actions support that natural order and others destroy it.

I don’t think celibacy is a good example because it doesn’t work against the natural order at all, it forgoes it in order to adhere more closely to a higher order and higher law.

I agree with you about the state of Marriage. So the answer is not to make it worse by further destroying it and rendering the word even more meaningless. We must work to restore it to its full meaning and it is our responsibility to ensure our government recognizes and supports this.

Both contraception and homosexual activity (as well as fornication) are all grave sins.

Carol July 14, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Nicely put about celibacy. Yes. Pythagoras demanded this of his followers for this very reason.
And, of course, a good analogy simplifies matters as yours has done very well; as long as you are completely focused in on the nature-isn’t-absolutely-”natural” (aka “healthy”). Unfortunately, it seems as if you are calling homosexuals giant, smelly, rotting corpses. Something I think any person would take exception to regardless of intent.
So, if your purpose is to make a point. Well done. However, if your purpose is to make a point that can deliver healing or change people’s minds… wellllll.
Also, I do see your point about marriage being sacred. It IS. The world would be a MUCH better place if everyone would/could see this. The problem is we can’t MAKE them see this.
It becomes a problem of hate the sinner and misdirect from the sin.
A homosexual is a person who feels more/most “naturally” attracted to one of their own sex. A notion I, personally, find repulsive; but for them, so I’m told and I DO believe, that SAME feeling of repulsion is how they feel towards an opposite gender mate. For whatever reason, it is a true cross that they have been given, in most cases, against their will. Who are we, then to further penalize them from trying to fit into society as best they can?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but nowhere in the bible (or Tradition) does it say a man can’t love another man or that a man can’t coexist with another man. The problem comes from intercourse. It becomes a matter of hate, when the individuals who have the cross to bear are penalized while the ones who blissfully flaunt God’s will are given a smile and a wink, maybe even a pat on the back. I personally know of one poor protestant woman who is crying out for more children than the one angel God blessed her with, but her protestant husband selfishly wants to remain a child himself and forces her to use contraception. THIS is the sin. The deliberate separation/flaunting of God’s will. Unless people see this and want to define the sin as the sin, instead of directing vitriol at a group of people, the real problem will never be confronted and “marriage” remains an empty term, void of substance from the start.

Bobby Bambino July 15, 2010 at 7:55 am

Hi Carol.

“Unfortunately, it seems as if you are calling homosexuals giant, smelly, rotting corpses.”

I don’t know where you’re seeing this, but nevertheless the point should be made that while we condemn homosexual actions as gravely immoral and contrary to the natural law, we do so out of love for those who suffer from same sex attraction. Because we love them, we wish to inform them that what they are engaging in is not only a destructive lifestyle physically, but it kills them spiritually as well. Love is not about “I’m okay, you’re okay.” It is about doing what that which will bring the highest good for the individual, the highest good being total union with God.

“For whatever reason, it is a true cross that they have been given, in most cases, against their will. Who are we, then to further penalize them from trying to fit into society as best they can?”

I agree that it is a tremendous cross and I deeply sympathize with them. But I’m not sure what you are suggesting then, Carol. Christian life is a sacrifice. At the same time, we show compassion to our brothers and sisters who suffer from same sex attraction by suffering with them, which I believe is the literal meaning of the word “compassion.”

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but nowhere in the bible (or Tradition) does it say a man can’t love another man or that a man can’t coexist with another man. The problem comes from intercourse.”

As far as I know, I think you are correct here, Carol. Certainly there is nothing wrong with sharing an apartment or house with several people of the same sex while in college or even indefinitely afterwords. However, two individuals of the same sex who are attracted to each other should not live together because they are putting themselves in the near occasion of sin. This is one of the reasons why it is wrong for ANY couple to cohabitate before marriage. An alcoholic would not be showing prudence by hanging out at a bar, though there is nothing INTRINSICALLY wrong with hanging out in a bar. But again, he would be willingly placing himself in a situation where he knows that he will be tempted to engage in glutinous activity. Similarly, two men who are attracted to each other, even if they vow to forgo sexual relations, should not live together.

“It becomes a matter of hate, when the individuals who have the cross to bear are penalized while the ones who blissfully flaunt God’s will are given a smile and a wink, maybe even a pat on the back.”

I agree here. However, it is NOT easy in today’s society to hold that homosexual actions are gravely evil. I am a member of academia. Not a SINGLE one of my colleagues holds the position I do about about homosexual actions, and it is very difficult to be “that guy.” I don’t say this at all for pity, but just to show that standing up against homosexual actions is not something that one does in a ho-hum matter-of-fact I’m-better-than-you manner. I know this isn’t exactly what you were getting at, Carol, but we certainly don’t take this stance to feel good about ourselves or win any popularity contests.

“I personally know of one poor protestant woman who is crying out for more children than the one angel God blessed her with, but her protestant husband selfishly wants to remain a child himself and forces her to use contraception.”

Ugh. This is such a difficult cross to bear. I will keep your freind’s situation in prayer, that her husband may open his heart to the beauty and joy that is found in not only doing God’s will, but in children. God love you, Carol.

José July 15, 2010 at 9:00 am

Well put, Bobby. Your explanation was very very clear. God bless you

Katie July 15, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Hi Matt,
I met you last weekend in Austin, and decided to check out your blog after Liz told me about it. And after some debate, though I hardly know you, I’ve decided to weigh in here, since I’m an actual human who is also actually gay.

I’m going to assume that the pessimistic reading of your original post–that you may in fact consider yourself not just morally but also biologically superior to gay people, a line of reasoning that allowed, for example, American slave owners in the 1800s to sleep at night and, later, many Europeans to justify the Jewish Holocaust–was not the one you intended. Instead, I’ll assume that you are attempting to drum up an insightful demonstration of why your particular religious perspective is best. This optimistic reading will save me a) a lot of despair and b) the trouble of concluding that you are, reprehensibly, hiding behind your religion in an attempt to justify your own latent bigotry, which would be a very sad conclusion indeed. So now. Optimistic reading in place, let me offer up another perspective.

Let’s consider what a beached whale actually is: it’s an animal that has arrived at the end of a life spent in its natural habitat. Whether that death is “timely” isn’t relevant–death never is, especially if you’re a human or anthropomorphized whale–but it’s actually, for whales, an incredibly natural way to die. A beached whale, then, is similar to a human dying of cancer, a stroke, or freezing to death in a blizzard. It’s unfortunate, and yes, probably very confusing to die, regardless of when or how it happens, but there’s nothing unnatural about it.

But that’s actually beside the point, Matt, because guess what? Being gay is not a slow, painful death. It’s a natural (yes, natural) variant of human behavior (one that makes it hard, for example, to live in Texas and shake hands with new acquaintances who will promptly run home to blog about you as a class of organisms less human than themselves). But it’s not, biologically or experientially, anything at all like dying of cancer, a stroke, or exposure.

Now, I completely understand that, in terms of your faith (provided the optimistic reading is correct), being gay and acting on it are equivalent to a slow, painful spiritual death. But that’s the (often beautiful) thing about faith, Matt: the whole point of it is that you believe something without proof, without having arrived at the decision to do so via rational debate. It is quite literally irrational, and any disingenuous attempt to package your beliefs as logically defensible is arrogant and foolish.

Similarly, Mr. Bambino’s argument that compares an alcoholic to a homosexual is problematic. Unchecked alcoholism is demonstrably, physically destructive. It ruins people’s lives. Gayness is not like that. It is not an addiction that, unchecked, demonstrably leads people to physical and emotional ruin. It leads them to act outside the bounds of acceptability as described by your particular, subjective, faith-based religious convictions . But their livers are intact, their families are strong (provided they have supportive and loving family members). They don’t molest children, crash cars, abuse their partners, mistreat the elderly, deceive people, quit their jobs, or use their natural circumstances as an excuse to treat others inhumanely at a higher frequency than straight people. The only thing wrong with gay people is that they are, by your religion’s standards, sinning (so are heterosexual couples who use birth control, but last I checked, you guys weren’t fighting to rename their marriages…but that’s another discussion altogether).

My point is that contradiction is inherent and necessary to religion– there are so many religions in the world, all of them believing they’re right and everyone else is wrong, none of them with an ounce of “proof.” It’s an amazing human capacity, but it has also lead to devastating cruelty, bloody wars, and large-scale dehumanization of others for the sake of (or with the excuse of) religious conviction.

I’d urge you to recognize that plurality and have the courage to admit that you don’t know, any more than I know or a Muslim or a beached blue whale knows, if you’re right about God, about Catholicism, about me and Liz or any other gay couple that has found love and happiness. That’s what faith is–belief without knowing. And for the sake of myself and anyone who hopes to be treated with respect and humanity, regardless of their religious beliefs or sexual orientation, I’d ask you to consider honestly what you’re really trying to advance in these posts–is it faith, or is it just plain old homophobia? (If it’s the latter, don’t worry–lots of people struggle with it, and we try to have compassion for them. We just don’t want to get married in their churches).

Take care,
Katie

Matthew Warner July 16, 2010 at 1:30 am

Hi Katie,
I’m very glad you decided to write. Although, it most certainly saddened me to hear it. My intention was never to hurt anyone’s feelings or call into question my sincere love and respect for all people – homosexual or not. I write on these topics quite a bit because it is something I care deeply about and believe to be very important. This post was actually written (and scheduled to post) long before I saw you last weekend or knew I would be seeing you and Liz (believe it or not). And I hate that it has caused you to question my sincerity in how happy I was to finally meet you.

I thank you for giving me the benefit of the doubt (i.e. the “optimistic reading”). I don’t think I’ve ever done anything to treat Liz (or you) disrespectfully or in any way that would suggest you are inferior (except for maybe a few times I was a jerk to Liz back in college while doing EE homework). When I see Liz I see a totally amazing, caring, brilliant person who I’ve had the privilege of sharing some great memories with over the years and whose friendship I still value.

In my post, while I quite obviously disagree with attempts to redefine Marriage and I don’t believe that a homosexual lifestyle is healthy for anyone, I say nothing to suggest that homosexual people should be treated with any less love, respect or humanity than any other person. In fact, I often emphasize in my writing that we should show homosexuals even more love and compassion (just as many of us could use) because of the often difficult circumstances they endure in life. I know you may find it difficult to believe, but I hope you’ll consider the possibility that my beliefs here are sincere and held with the intention of wanting what is best for each and every person.

As for the whale analogy, I’m quite open to the idea that it doesn’t work on a lot of levels. As with any analogy, one risks somebody coming along and extracting a bit too much because of how they may perceive the issue differently than you. Of COURSE there are infinite ways a beached whale is not like a homosexual. That is not the point. And a beached whale isn’t necessarily dead (as you were suggesting), it’s just not in a healthy place. It wasn’t made to operate at its fullest potential on a beach. It is most beautiful and fulfilled in its life’s purpose when swimming in the ocean. That is all my point was. You can disagree with my analogy, of course. You can tell me it stinks. I am fine with any of that. And I appreciate what you have to say about it very much.

However, my religion is not one of contradiction at all (I’m not sure how familiar you are with Catholic tradition, philosophy and theology). It is one of harmony between faith and reason. In fact, the meat of this very issue falls under that of natural theology, meaning the truth here is, I believe, largely understandable by the light of natural reason (no faith necessary). And these beliefs have been logically and rationally defended for thousands of years (despite my own imperfect attempts). You express the view that there is not an ounce of “proof” for these various religious world-views, but that world-view in itself is one “without an ounce of proof” to support it. And I have found plenty of proof, myself, anyway. But that’s what I’ve found. You seem to have found something different.

You urge me to recognize this “plurality” of unsubstantiated world-views and to have the “courage to admit that [I] don’t know, any more than [you] know, etc.” While I don’t agree with that sentiment, you apparently do. Yet everything you have just written is written in a way that suggests that you know something more than I know. So which is it? And is there any room in this plurality for my view?

On another note, concerning your point about marriages that use contraception, while practically it is a more complex matter, the Church does recognize marriages as “null” all the time on that very basis. So the Church is entirely consistent on that matter. But the Church isn’t fighting to “rename” any marriages (as you put it). It is simply interested in preserving marriage’s unique, long-standing and naturally reasoned definition – and for a multitude of reasons.

Anyway, again, thanks for writing. I really do apologize if I offended you or gave you a wrong impression or anything like that. I’m not always the most effective or sensitive in the way I try to explain things. (If you are interested in personally talking more, feel free to email me anytime.)

Peace be with you,
Matt

Jenny Johnson July 22, 2010 at 10:47 am

Matt, you say that “people may be born, in varying degrees, with a genetic disposition towards homosexuality”. Is this not the way God made them then? I don’t see the logic that God creates an individual a certain way, and then it is a sin to be the person God wanted you to be.

Bobby Bambino July 22, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Hi Jenny.

“Is this not the way God made them then? I don’t see the logic that God creates an individual a certain way, and then it is a sin to be the person God wanted you to be.”

Here is how I would understand this. Everyone is born with attraction to certain sins or things that are not good for them. In Catholic theology, this is known as concupiscence, which is the proclivity and attraction to sin. Some people are born or “made” attracted to wealth or heterosexual addiction or glutenous or any number of things that you and I would both agree are bad. But just because someone is born with a certain predisposition towards something, does it necessarily follow that that feeling is good or that God intends for us to act on that? No, of course not. As I mentioned above, we have concupiscence because of the fall. We are born in an imperfect state. For example, I am attracted to pornography. If I did not prayerfully and carefully discern my actions, I would find myself viewing pornography often. Yet (with God’s grace), I am able to avoid this temptation because I know it is evil and degrading to women and men. This is the same question that must be considered when looking at homosexual actions. It does not matter how much we are attracted to them or natural it feels. Feelings come and go and are based on emotions, but what makes humans unique is their ability to let their intellect control their will, sometimes contra the emotions and appetite. If homosexual actions are evil in and of themselves, it does not matter whether or not we are born with those feelings. Hope that makes sense.

Matthew Warner July 26, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Jenny,

That’s a good question. Bobby offered a lot of the answer I think. But I think the same question can be asked for any sins we struggle with.

Part of the mystery of human life is our capacity to love – which requires the ability to make a free choice. In order for that to be possible, we must also have the free choice to do evil (sin). So as a part of our being human we are born with the capacity to sin (which gives us the capacity to also love). We were not made to sin, though. That’s an important distinction. So while God gave us the capacity to reject him (sin), that does not mean he “wants us to be” that way.

Another mystery is our fallen state caused from original sin. This is , in part, the “concupiscence” Bobby mentions – our tendency and attraction to sin. But it goes further. It’s our tendency to be imperfect period. Often at no personal fault of our own. All of us are born with various dispositions (genetic, inutero, etc) that aren’t perfect. Our task as Christians is to overcome those things. To reject our capacity to sin and to freely choose truth and love. That’s the heart and challenge of being human.

Additionally, we are also subjected to various environmental experiences in our lifetime that are no fault of our own, yet they affect who we are. Similarly, we are called to overcome these just the same.

Of course, our culpability for anything we do is determined by how freely or un-freely we choose to do those things. But that is for God to determine.

Angela Marichristo July 26, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Gay people should be checked by a doctor for im balance of hormones for the ladies and testostrone in men, to see if they can be helped by giving them balance for what is missing. Their mental condition is confused on what is natural for a relationship because of this

Matthew Warner July 26, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Angela – unfortunately, it’s a bit more complicated than that. But there are examples out there of people who have overcome these struggles and there are groups to help them through it too. Most of all they need our love and prayers.

Carol July 27, 2010 at 2:29 pm

On the lighter side, this link provides some deeper insight into the uber-conservative Catholic mindset.

cohabitation before marriage: http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=478513

I provide it as evidence that, despite appearances, homosexuals are not (and should never be) “targeted”. It really is the whole “sex outside of pro-creation thing” that real Catholics always have and always will stand against… regardless of media smear campaigns and the like.
Also I found it a little funny that people are making a big deal about allowing a cohabitating couple to get “married in the church”. … Wow.

Peace.

Matthew Warner July 27, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Carol – I think it’s a bit more complicated than that as well. It is not only that the act is not open to life. The Catholic understanding of the Natural Law not only includes that the sexual act was designed to be open to life, but that it was made to occur between a man and a woman (sexual complimentarity). And it goes even deeper than that when we start to get into the human family being a type of model of the Trinitarian God, His nature and relationship. So a simplified answer may be that homosexual activity more grossly violates the natural law than heterosexual fornication or contraception. However, all are still grave sin. And all can still make a marriage null.

So in your example of the “cohabitating couple”, if they are aware they should be chaste and are not at least trying to remain chaste in their cohabitation, then their marriage would likely be sacramentally null, regardless of whether they are “married in the church” or not.

Eurylino November 17, 2010 at 4:00 pm

I would like to start off by saying I have absolutely no problem with the Catholic Church’s stance on marriage, homosexuality or abortion and I am a lesbian who believes in Christ, the right to choose & secular marriage equality. Catholics have every right to define the Sacrament of Marriage however their church sees fit to define it. The church’s views on homosexuality & abortion should also be respected. All Americans should be allowed to believe, practice, and teach their children their personal view of right and wrong. The law should not interfere with this as long as the practice falls within the bounds of human decency and tolerance. I do not expect you to teach or preach that homosexuality is right in the eyes of Catholicism, anyone who does clearly misunderstands the concepts of freedom and tolerance. I disagree with the church and I believe that Christ also disagrees but that is my right just as much as it is your right to be Catholic & preach about Catholicism. My problem is that too many Catholics and other Christians are not tolerant of me or my family. You do not have to agree, like, accept or even understand homosexuality. However, as Christians, Americans and as human beings you SHOULD have to tolerate homosexuals just as you tolerate any other sinners. By tolerate I mean do not discriminate, abuse, assault, oppress or in any other way take away the rights of another group of human beings. Assess the character of other human beings as individuals not as members of a group you dislike. The Catholic Sacrament of Marriage is and will continue to be a union between a man and a woman. If secular marriage is redefined as a union between two adults regardless of gender, Catholic marriage will not be changed. Priests and churches will not be forced to marry two women anymore than they are forced to marry two Jews now. That they would be forced is a myth and a lie perpetrated by scared and angry people. You have every right to oppose the changing of the secular law but should not use lies or deception to meet your goals. I want to live in a country where everyone’s values are respected in the eyes of the law as long as tolerance is the guiding force. You do not have to agree with me or teach your children that homosexuality is natural but you DO need to tolerate my family. We are all children of God and we can disagree and live together peaceably if we all decide that tolerance should be our guide.

Matthew Warner November 17, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Eurylino,

Thank you for your very well-articulated, thoughtful and loving comment. I really appreciate that and greatly welcome it as a part of the dialogue here.

I think where we would disagree is that #1) “Tolerance” is not our guide…at least as Christians. And I’d argue it’s a guide that nobody actually uses uniformly…although they may think they do. Tolerance is certainly an important factor, but it is not an objective and inherent “good.” We should tolerate moral things and be intolerant of immoral things. In this sense, it can be just as appropriate to be tolerant as intolerant. A kind of non-discriminate “tolerance” is a very dangerous “guide” by itself.

#2) We do, however, have a broader application and acceptance of tolerance in our pluralistic society that comes as part of our role of being Christians in a world where everyone else is not Christian. So the role of the State here is slightly different.

#3) That said, that State role is a nuanced one. It’s insufficient (and impossible) to relegate morality to a “personal and private” matter and entirely separate from that of the State. It’s impossible to divide the making of any law from some sense of morality. Every law we pass legislates some kind of morality. It, like us, can not simply “tolerate” all opposing views. By it’s very toleration of one thing or another it has chosen to be intolerant of another thing and has legislated its own morality in the process. So the question is not whether the State should make such distinctions based on some particular idea of morality, it’s WHICH morality will it be based on?

#4) This is another reason why separating “types of marriages” such as “civil” vs “sacramental” or “catholic” vs whatever-else is no solution either. They all effect each other as a matter of culture and real-life implications on people. And the State has an obligation to do and encourage “good”…although, of course, it’s role should be limited in this respect.

Where we draw all of those lines and which morality or measure of “good” we use is where the debate lies. And we can’t avoid it. So we must start there. It’s not enough to simply say we should all tolerate everything. It might sound good or make us feel good, but in practice, it’s impossible and doesn’t solve anything.

There are lots of things we should tolerate. There are lots of things we should not tolerate. The key is not to “tolerate” everyone and their families. The key is to love them.

God bless you!

enness July 12, 2011 at 11:03 am

Eurylino,

“That they would be forced is a myth and a lie perpetrated by scared and angry people.”

Can you explain how it is a lie? A number of instances of forcing come to my mind (and in the definition of force I include impossible expectations that leave one no other choice). Mainly, the Catholic adoption agency that closed because it was unable to comply both with state law and with its basic principles was in my region, so, are you telling me that didn’t really happen? That’s a hard sell. Unfortunately, I cannot really see such instances happening LESS as young people’s attitudes toward so-called “bigotry” calcify.

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